His filmography is short but his name transcends borders. Six feature films were enough for Apichatpong Weerasethakul to establish his mystical cinema, that focuses on memory and reincarnation. Throughout his feature films, a critical view of Thai society emerges, as seen in Mekong Hotel, screened under Special Screenings.
Mekong, the border between Laos and Thailand, separates much more than two countries according to Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Mekong is the gap between two cultures and two nations, two peoples who are gradually turning their backs on each other. "The Mekong River is no longer a bridge, but a barrier. Prejudices towards the Laotians are increasingly common in central Thailand and in the media" explains the director.
On the banks of the Mekong River, Apichatpong has placed a house, a witness to the tumults and the metamorphoses of the river. Sometimes dry and dull, sometimes flooded and booming, this river inspired the natural and enchanted poetry which flows throughout his filmography.
This time the story is about Apichatpong himself, alongside both fiction and fantasy. The film features the director in the house on the banks of the Mekong. He is shooting Ecstasy Garden, a project that he has been struggling to finish for several years. In short: a film within a film. And also the lives within a life: reincarnation is a key theme for the director, notably explored in Tropical Malady (Prix du Jury in 2004) and Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (Palme d'Or in 2010).
Anecdotal for some, at the heart of religious life for a vast majority, reincarnation is an integral part of Thai life. As for Apichatpong Weerasethakul, his mind is made up: "I do not know if in the future, reincarnation will be recognised as something real and accepted by science, but this process of bringing back certain memories, is undeniably like cinema itself." Something to mull over.
Mekong Hotel will be screened under Special Screenings on Friday 18th May at 17:00, Salle du Soixantième